Much for bloggers to ponder in managing comments

Something that I have a particular interest in is what part if any that others have in encouraging a lone wolf type attack, or any terrorist type attack.

It is probably easy for them to find a small number of like minded nutters online who bolster each other’s warped thinking, and increase the chances of one of them actually taking action, or trying to take action.

Do they look wider online? Do they get encouragement from others who share and promote their same prejudices and intolerances?

In particular for me (and others in the blogging world) – does allowing extremist views to be aired and promoted raise the risks of someone taking drastic action? I don’t know the answer to that.

But I do know that those with over the top or extreme intolerant views can be very persistent in pushing their agendas.

And also on a lower level, how much some contribute to intolerance, racism, Islamaphobia etc.

There are some who may genuinely feel strongly about what they see as cultural or political dangers who don’t go to extreme levels, but whose persistence, especially if amplified by numbers can be a toxic haze in online communities.

It’s a difficult time trying to work out how to deal with this.

David Farrar is grappling with something similar, putting in place auto-moderation on anyone who doesn’t use their own name (that is, use a pseudonym to keep their identity anonymous).

Kiwiblog: Moderation changes

I have put comments on manual moderation, as the normal process of waiting for someone to complain about a comment was not ideal in this period.

Having me manually approving every comment is not a long-term solution. But neither was the old system of having all comments appear automatically unless there were complaints about them. Because that means some unacceptable comments stay there.

If you use your real name for comments, you will be given a status that allows your comments to appear automatically. There will be no delay. You’re still subject to moderation after the event if your comment breaches policies, but you will not have any delays.

If you do not wish to use your real name, you are entitled to do so. There are many genuine reasons you may have for that. But it means your comments will be held for moderation until a moderator (currently just me) can view it and approve or decline it.

The idea is to incentivise people to use their real names, but to still allow an alias.

Some people have said they are happy to “own” their comments but don’t want to have their name listed as the commenter as it becomes the first thing which comes up on Google. One can qualify for “auto-approve” status if you link your user profile to a page that identifies you, even if you use initials or an alias.

In comments there is some support, but a lot of angst and threats to desert Kiwiblog. Some who have genuine reasons to remain anonymous, and who don’t want to comment with auto-moderation, will be a loss to Kiwiblog. Others will be a welcome clean up, and more may comment with less threat of attacks and abuse which was prevalent there.

What about here?

At this stage I have no plans to require use of real names to allow immediate commenting. Most people using pseudonyms here are good contributors, and I don’t want to penalise them because of the abuse of a few.

But I am considering using auto-moderation (where a person’s comments have to be approved by me before they will appear) more often.

I don’t want Your NZ to be used for promoting division, intolerance, hate, conspiracies, unsubstantiated accusations, abuse.

All first comments from any new identity will need to be approved before it will appear. After that comments will appear immediately – for now I will still give everyone the benefit of doubt, initially.

But some who breach the guidelines here, especially repeatedly, are more likely to be put on auto-moderation.

I don’t have time to monitor comments 24/7. I don’t want to be an on-call babysitter and policer.

So if I see anyone as a risk for posting inappropriate or suspect content, then I will put them on auto-moderation.

For those who comment responsibly and in good faith, nothing will change.

Also note that if I see a comment posted that is a cause for concern, I will bin it. When I get time I will review it, and may release it, edit it, or dump it.

I may not always seem consistent. Tough. I play things as I see them. Complaining about it won’t help your case, but as always I’m open to having reasonable queries brought to my attention.

Not the end of the world or a win for a terrorist

There has been some wailing at Kiwiblog that increased moderation is a win for a terrorist and the end of the free speech world. That’s over-wrought bollocks.

When people try to use a terrorist act to promote an extreme agenda, and that causes a tightening of moderation on a blog, it is the extremist commenters who are to blame for their voices being not being trusted s being responsible enough for unfettered speech.






Farrar belatedly addressing moderation at Kiwiblog

Kiwiblog has long had problems with lack of moderation. David Farrar can write good posts, and there are a lot of knowledgeable commenters who are worth looking out for, but the comments have been blighted by abuse and highly questionable agendas.

The Christchurch mosque terror attacks, and responses in comments at Kiwiblog, have finally prompted Farrar into taking more action.

It’;s difficult enough moderating a small blog like this, especially when some people are persistent and determined to do as they please despite requests and warnings to comply with fairly liberal guidelines.

Monitoring a blog the size of Kiwiblog is a huge task. It’s common for posts to have hundreds of comments throughout the day and night.

Due to lax moderation for years it is an even bigger task trying to get things under control there.


General Debate 18 March 2019

Comments turned off until I have had time to delete and sanction those who have crossed the line.

UPDATE: Comments now back on. But they will not appear until manually approved. Those lacking in empathy will probably not appear.

This was a drastic step. I’m not sure when comments were turned off, or on again with moderation, but the comment rate slowed down considerably.

And later in PM announces inquiry

The last comment at Kiwiblog appears to have been posted at at 9:20 pm last night, so something significant is obviously going on there. Time will tell how that pans out.

However moderation and comments go now there it will be a major challenge changing the widespread perception that Kiwiblog is an abusive and toxic environment, with racism, political abuse and white supremacy issues.

Whale Oil has been heavily moderated for years, but that has largely been for message control and manipulation.

Comments there yesterday indicate that they still have problems with some of their content, both in posts and in comments. They may have stopped swearing, but they still allow political abuse, and anti-immigrant and ansi-Muslim sentiments.

They have started today with much of the same old anti-Muslim lines (that Farrar appears to be trying to claamp down on):


It’s not “democratic crowd sourcing of the moderation”

It’s not “democratic crowd sourcing of the moderation”, it’s a small number of people abusing moderation at Kiwiblog to censor comments.

A few numpties continue to abuse the Report function at Kiwiblog that is intended to counter abusive comments. This shows on a thread starting with this comment:

Surely Knott:

Lol. It’s not mob censorship – it’s democratic crowd sourcing of the moderation. And it’s a blog for grown ups so we don’t need to be protected from ideas, generally.

It’s not democratic when five people can target and effectively censor comments – and they don’t look like they’re acting like grown ups.

Further on in that thread:

It took some time for this to go into moderation, suggesting a gradual accumulation of REPORT clicking. But this is a clear abuse of the reporting function.

From Kiwiblog’s Comment Policy:

The other way you can signal you think a comment is unacceptable, is to click on the link which says “Report Abusive Comment”. If a certain threshold is reached of people reporting it, then the system will automatically hide the comment from view, and place it into moderation for a moderator to review. This can be the quickest way to remove an abusive comment from view. This should not be used for comments you merely disagree with, but only ones that are abusive.

A second comment has also been parked in moderation:

Pete George

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Linking to a source is normal practice, especially when there is more detail there.

In the site Comments Policy – – there is no indication that linking to a source is a problem. I have never seen DPF say not to do it. I have had a strike for doing it.

Accusations of ‘link whoring’ amounts to a form of trolling to try to disrupt or discredit or censor. Reporting ‘link whoring’ seems to me to be an abuse of site processes. It is used to try to suppress free speech, something that is against the pro-free speech principles of Kiwiblog.

These comments are clearly not abusive, so this looks like a clear case of ongoing abuse of the reporting function – more mini-mob censorship.

Update: on a thread on this at Kiwiblog from Muttonbird:

Interesting that the comments policy left out some important additional information on the report process outlined by Mr Farrar when it was introduced in 2014.

Note that this feature should not be used on comments just because you disagree with them. If you continually report comments that are not abusive or trolling, then I’ll suspend your account. The up and down vote buttons are what you use for agreeing or disagreeing with a comment. This feature is for comments that are highly abusive.

Perhaps Mr Farrar needs to update his comments policy and clarify just what he wants this feature to do and the conditions under which it should be used. Because I don’t see a lot of suspensions happening right now for flagrant misuse.

Mob censorship in action at Kiwiblog?

I posted about some over the top comments and a ban at Kiwiblog on Thursday. There was no General debate at Kiwiblog that day, so I posted a comment and link on it yesterday. There was some reaction to it for a while, but then it disappeared into moderation – not just the comment but the whole thread.

It is still hidden in moderation nearly a day later.

Perhaps David Farrar is otherwise occupied and hasn’t had a chance to check moderation over the last day, or maybe he chose to leave the comment and thread in moderation – that would be his choice.

But of more interest – is this a form of mob censorship?

Some of the reaction was predictable (for Kiwiblog), like ‘igm’:

Do you not think Ardern deserves abuse . . . wake up you tosser!

But ‘redeye’ tried this old trick

That’s pretty disgusting link whoring for mine.

People post comments with links all the time – that’s a fundamental way the Internet works. Bloggers link to source material a lot – it is what many political blogs are based on. It is widely accepted.

DPF himself has Kiwiblog set up to link to posts at other blogs – including Your NZ. There were a lot of clicks through to here on Thursday from an automatic Kiwiblog link. I don’t see that as ‘pretty disgusting link whoring’.

Link whore accusations are just one of many forms of trying to attack and discredit the messenger or source.

This comment came up from starboard (a long time KB commenter):

PG reported for link whoring.

Soon after that the comment disappeared into ‘moderation’. This was probably automatic. From the Kiwiblog comments policy:

If your comment has disappeared, it has probably been reported as being potentially abusive. A moderator will review the comment and decide whether it meets out comments guidelines.

I don’t know why it’s still there after a day but that’s not the issue.

What is of interest though is that a small number of people (depending on how the moderation trigger is set) can effectively censor a comment and thread if they want to. DPF may eventually release reported comments from moderation, but by then the audience has moved on.

This is the first time I have seen it happening at Kiwiblog, I don’t know how common it is, but I wonder if it is used as a deliberate means of suppression of comments and threads, a form of mob censorship.

On a blog that generally leans strongly towards free speech this is a bit of an anomaly.


Morrisey at Kiwiblog:

Mr George has got it exactly right. DPF keeps away from the fray, generally, which is admirable; however the “Report” function is routinely, cynically abused by a small group of grumblers. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the same half dozen haters of free speech pushing that button compulsively.

Comment from muttonbird:

It is a common practice on that blog. I have had several comments disappear in the same way. From memory just one was restored by the lone moderator.

Pete. It requires just 5 users to hit the report button for the comment and all replies to disappear from general view. And yes, if you have said something which really gets under the snowflakes’ skin they’ll use it regardless of whether it could be called abusive or not.

As is Farrar’s laissez faire, fact-free attitude to blogging he might restore the comment or he might not. Remember Kiwiblog only recently got the sub-comment feature having previously been a linear only comment structure which was a nightmare.

Farrar acts on ongoing attacks on Ardern

David Farrar has finally stepped in and done something about the ongoing and increasingly nasty abuse at Kiwiblog that has been directed at Jacinda Ardern, her partner and her baby.


By signing that ‘Migration Pact’ fraud Ardern has signed the Death Warrant of so many New Zealand women and children.

It will take a few years for Kiwis to wake up and actually realise what this vile woman has done but one thing is for sure- History will not remember her kindly.

No, that isn’t the comment that Farrar moderated. It was the reply to it from realityczech:

I hope the first victim is her wretched spoor of the cursed union. I’m sick of ordinary people paying the price of decisions made by an elite who are removed from the consequences. I want her disgusting brat to suffer hideously so she can know the pain she inflicted on millions of others.

Upticks 5, downticks 23

[DPF: You need to see a psychiatrist. That is also Strike 7 and a three month suspension]

Strike 7 means that ‘realityczech’ has been moderated before (they seem to have commented as Kea too) – their record:

  • RealityCzech – 1st strike 1/4/17, 2nd and 3rd strike – 3/2/18, 4th strike – 7/3/18, 5th strike – 19/5/18, 6th strike – 15/9/18, 7th strike – 02/01/19,

That’s just addressing the tip of a vitriolic iceberg, which continues on the moderated thread (some comments will have been posted before the ban).

Someone confronted the comment. Awww C-mon:

Fuck that’s more than a little OTT.

You need to chill the hell out and stop being a fucking cunt.

19 upticks, 3 downticks.

And as per normal an attack back from realityczech:

Here come the sleazy virtue signallers.

Tell ya what have it your way – Who’s kid do you volunteer, yours ?

3 upticks, 18 downticks.

It continued went on between the two.

There were also some abuse supporting comments from Longknives:

To be fair to realityczech- This Labour/Green Government are quite happy for my kids to become ‘Collateral Damage’…
So why should I give a fuck about Ardern’s kid?

15 upticks, 10 downticks.


You do realise that Labour /Greens intend on closing ALL prisons and releasing ALL crims back into society? (Every rapist, murderer and child predator..)
And that Ardern’s puppet Andrew Little said he was prepared to accept ‘Collateral Damage’ when they do this??
Throw in the Migration Pact (Open fucking Borders!) and it is clear that Ardern and her lunatic Government are quite happy to play games and endanger my/your kid’s lives…

19 upticks, 4 downticks.


I certainly don’t wish any harm on Ardern and Gayford’s kid.
I feel sorry for it though- As I’m sure one day it will realise it’s whole existence has been some kind of twisted publicity stunt to further it’s Mum’s career…

You will never convince me that Ardern and co wouldn’t celebrate the demise of one of my kids though- I honestly think they are that morally bankrupt and utterly ruthless in their ambition…(Look at how she cashed in on the death of that poor tourist girl..)

10 upticks, 3 downticks.

While Farrar is not directly responsible for comments from individuals at Kiwiblog, he is responsible for the overall tone prevalent on his blog, and he is responsible to ongoing hit to his own reputation because he allows high levels of vitriol, attack and personal abuse.

For as long as I’ve been aware of Kiwiblog (about ten years) it has been bad for virtually unrestrained abuse and attacks. I think it has been a major detriment to the site, and has continued to harm Farrar’s political reputation. While David Farrar paused to consider his blogging future when linked closely to Cameron Slater in Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’, he carried on, and so did the toxic discussion forums.

It’s difficult to moderate any online forum (I know from my own wxperience), especially when managed by one person, and with the number of comments posted at Kiwiblog – often many hundreds per day.

Farrar has always largely kept a distance from Kiwiblog’s comments, favouring free speech. This is a laudable but ultimately lax approach – I and many others have found that you can’t rely on online commenters to act like responsible adults and to not abuse others and to not abuse forums where they are effectively guests.

Sadly shitting in other people’s online nests is very common – some people get way with as much nastiness as they can, and then push boundaries more. I guess some people just have nasty streaks. perhaps they get some sort of power thrill from attacking others. In some cases try to deliberately trash the reputation of blogs (as happened here in a major way in 2015).

One ban is not going to fix Farrar’s problem. He is either going to have to try and clean up his mess – that wouldn’t be easy, online abusers seem to get a sense of entitlement to use forums to abuse, and can get worse if any attempt is made to restrict them. I used to confront abuse at Kiwiblog and with virtually no moderation it usually only escalated the abuse.

Kiwiblog has some very good comments and very interesting commenters participate there. But all the good is badly tainted by the rampant and largely unrestrained abuse.

This affects Farrar’s reputation. He must know this and seems to just accept it. I have seen no indication that he cares about it.

But it also impacts on the National Party by association. Farrar has been closely associated with National for a long time. From his disclosure statement:

Since I joined Young Nationals in 1986, I have been affiliated to, and a member of, the National Party.

As a volunteer, I established National’s initial Internet presence in 1996 and have held various roles in the party up until 2005, including Deputy Regional Chair. I have three times been a temporary contractor to National HQ, helping out with the campaign in 1999, and also between staff appointments – in 2004 and 2007 for a total of ten months. I still help National HQ from time to time on data and IT issues.

I worked in Parliament for almost eight years from July 1996 to March 2004. I initially worked as a media advisor to Ministerial Services when Jim Bolger was Prime Minister. I then had the rare privilege of working in the Prime Minister’s Office for Jenny Shipley, and in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition for Jenny Shipley, Bill English and Don Brash.

I am a Director  of  Group Ltd and Curia Market Research Ltd.

Clients who have used Curia publicly are the New Zealand National Party, The Parliamentary Office of the National Party Leader…

This is well known.

National don’t have any responsibility for Kiwiblog, which is Farrar’s personal blog. There is no indication to me that National have any connection with the ongoing abuses and attacks on Ardern and her family. But they are tainted by association. I would be extremely surprised if the party or their Parliamentary offices have any direct connection to personal and political attacks at Kiwiblog.

But Farrar continues to leave them open to accusations due to his hands off aiding and abetting of nasty political attacks.

And the abusive environment also deters people from participating, as demonstrated by this comment at Kiwiblog earlier yesterday from SGA:

It seems to me that lots of the posters on KB have moved to the left.

I can’t say I have noticed that, Viking2. For myself, I enjoyed Kiwiblog a lot more before the last election. Nowadays, I seem to scroll over increasing amounts of content-free bitterness and name calling to find anything worth reading. But maybe that’s just me

Upticks 21, downticks 5.

realityczech, a prolific commenter, responded to that:

You don’t notice it, because you don’t like freedom of speech.

Us liberals do notice it and you are far from being a liberal.

Upticks 3, downticks 16.

The ticks for and against those comments indicate that most don’t like the nasty and abusive tone that a small minority persist with, largely unrestrained by Farrar. In effect Farrar is favouring a few over the preferences of many. That’s what unfettered free speech tends to do.

Farrar can choose to run his blog however he likes. He is an astute political operator – but he seems to have a blind spot to the damage the abusive forums at Kiwiblog have on his reputation and on National.

Comments are the lifeblood of blogs

Posts are obviously essential for blogs, that’s what they primarily consist of. But comments give blogs life. A healthy commenting community is almost aan essential

There are exceptions – No Right Turn is followed and respected with no comments.

But mostly a blog with no or low comments is a sign of struggling to reach an audience, or ‘moderation’ that deters lively discussion – The Daily Blog is a good example of this (but the awful site layout and difficulty with knowing what the latest posts and comments are are also problems there).

Whale Oil still has an active commenting community, but this has diminished somewhat and seems to be concentrated on social rather than political discussion – a sign that message control moderation suppresses decent debate. Activity at Whale Oil has noticeably reduced since Cameron Slater had a stroke and stopped commenting altogether. Site failure to disclose what happened and apparent pretence that nothing had changed – possibly an attempt to try to protect revenue streams – has probably disappointed a number of now ex commenters too.

The most active commenting is on Kiwiblog – significantly more than on Whale Oil on political issues. This works in parallel to the often well informed posts from David Farrar. Very light moderation encourages a lot of commenters and comments, but detracting from this at times is the level of abuse tolerated there.

The Standard has changed significantly over it’s eleven or so years, in part due to substantial coming and going of authors. It’s commenting community has also changed quite a bit – recently I think for the better. They used to revel in gang attacks on anyone deemed some sort enemy of of ‘the left’, which was a form of self trashing as a serious forum for debate.

Then they turned over authors and moderation was dominated by ‘weka’, who tried to manage and manipulate comments to fit her agenda. She suddenly disappeared at about the same time Greens got into Government with Labour and NZ First. Since then there seem to be fewer posts apart from stalwart mickysavage keeping things ticking over, But the often toxic commenting environment seems to have improved significantly.

Recently MICKSAVAGE posted The Standard a decade on:

The site itself I believe offers a rich historical repository of contemporary New Zealand politics.  If you want to understand what has happened during the past decade from a left wing perspective then this site is a good place to start.

Proposals for suggested changes and critiques all welcome.

An interesting comment from Te Reo Putake (whose approach to blogging has evolved somewhat over many years involvement there):

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people.

For mine, it is the commenters who make this place special. If you look at our comrade Bomber’s blog, which often has posts on the same topics as TS, there is no life in the comments section. As I understand it, each comment at TDB is held until released by a moderator. That means that there is no flow, no conversation, no engagement.

It’s different here. The commentary is effectively live and takes on a life of its own. This permissive approach to debate is vital to the Standard’s success. As WtB notes above, the community has to a large extent self regulated and the moderation workload has dropped considerably in recent times.

That may in part be due to a change of Government changing some agendas, but there seems to have been a noticeable change in moderation practice, with open support for diverse views being expressed, quote a contrast to past toxic intolerance..

I’d also like to give a nod to the righties who comment here. TS is not an echo chamber and differing opinions make for good debate. It’s great that conservative opinion is not shouted down, but rather, is argued against rationally. Well, mostly!

The site is better for the contributions from people we don’t agree with, in my opinion.

In my opinion this is a positive change at The Standard.

I’ll take up the challenge “Proposals for suggested changes and critiques all welcome”.

Fewer posts attacking the Opposition.

More posts debating topical Government initiatives and proposals, and allowing wide ranging discussions (with personal attacks discouraged).

Through that I think that The Standard could become a more useful part of wider political discussion in New Zealand – comments are the lifeblood of political blogs. Too much bad blood is a real negative and puts many people off, but The Standard seems to have found a fairly good formula for now.

Moderation changes at Kiwiblog

Lurcher posted a comment:

I sent a really caustic email to David Farrar about the rubbish been posted on his blog [deleted the rest as inappropriate – PG].

He also provided a link to Kiwiblog: Quicker moderation

In this David Farrar has announced some moderation changes at Kiwiblog. He has a reputation as one of the most light handed blog managers, supporting the principle of free and open speech, but has chosen to toughen up a bit – by how much is yet to be seen, if it is notices at all, as he may now silently delete abusive comments – something Farrar has a negative reputation for.

For the last 15 years or so, I have tended to not delete comments that are overly nasty or abusive, but hand out strikes and eventually suspensions to commenters.

This has had the benefit of publicly showing that I don’t censor comments based on political opinion, but for breaches of my commenting policy. It also has allowed people to see what is and is not acceptable, and for most (not all) infringers it has allowed them to learn and stay within boundaries.

There have been minimal boundaries and much abuse at Kiwiblog as long as I have known (about ten years). It has popular for some, and I’m sure drives others away.

It has also caused problems for Farrar in wider media as comments on his blog have been seen as his responsibility. I suspect this is part of the reason for a change of approach.

I am not stopping this approach, but I am supplementing it.

So in future I am going to more frequently  simply delete comments that I deem are too abusive or trolling etc. They will simply disappear. If this happens to one of your comments, then you should change your commenting style in future.

If I see someone being persistently abusive or trolling, I may still take the time to do a formal strike and suspension.

I think enough people have seen my style the last 15 years they they know (unlike some blogs) I won’t just delete comments because I disagree with them politically. The whole point of comments (for me) is to have debate and disagreement.

A major point of comments for me has also been to have debate and allow disagreement and different views, but I think that lax moderation leaves too much opportunity for some to abuse the privilege of commenting on someone else’s website. A common approach by some – and I’ve seen this across a number of blogs including here – is to abuse people with views that aren’t agreed with and try to shut up alternate voices and drive them away.

I think this has been common at Kiwiblog, which is a shame because some of the comments and commenters are worth looking out for.

From my own experience some people (a small minority) can get worse if their freedom to abuse is curtailed. There could be some adjusting required.

Moderating a blog is a very challenging job, trying to get the balance you want somewhere about right most of the time.

It will be interesting to see if there is any noticeable change at Kiwiblog.

I hope the worst of the abuse is filtered out and it encourages more open debate and more freedom to express different views. Almost always, abuse is the opposite of debate,

I have rarely commented at Kiwiblog for years now, so it’s funny to get a couple of mentions on the thread.


And you know *Kiwiblog’s* doing something right, particularly when you see someone like Pete George @ YAWNZ, criticizing DPF’s moderation policy. LoL!

Very funny, but I suspect for a different reason.


In the past DPF has cracked down on ‘link whoring’
I recall Pete George used to do it a fair bit and got punished.

That’s straight out wrong, I haven’t seen any cracking down or punishment from DPF. I responded:

Blogs are commonly largely based on linking to other information. Like Kiwiblog.

One of the main features of the Internet has always been the ability to link to other information.

I don’t recall ever getting ‘punished’ for providing links to sources or to more detail (or to anything), apart from some commenters grizzling when they didn’t like alternative views, and that wasn’t punishment, it was success.

It was interesting to see who tried to attack the messenger or means of message, with no attempt made to debate points made or information provided.

Kiwiblog still has problems

Some blogs appear to have had a legal shake up this week over the Gayford rumour mongering. One blog has been having a big sook and claiming to be the big victim. They are full of contradictions and irony. This takes the cake:

One thing I have learned in politics is that when a political party accuses some other party or individuals of heinous political crimes then they are actually projecting their own actions and abilities against those they accuse.

This is a well known tactic. From what I’ve seen over the years that its exactly what they themselves often do.

At least they have fairly tight moderation and largely seem to have filtered out attempts to hint around the legal letter sent out to some media.

However this issue has highlighted a longstanding problem with Kiwiblog. It’s biggest strength is it’s biggest weakness – it’s very light moderation and very little monitoring. This has encouraged open and free flowing discussions, and there are some gems if you look for them.

But it has also allowed a culture of abuse to become established, as well as enabling the pushing of legal boundaries. This made it a forum of choice for some of those intent on pushing Gayford rumours.

Stuff: Where did the false Clarke Gayford rumours come from?

One early April post on right-leaning site Kiwiblog featured a whole thread discussing the rumours as a “personal scandal” in the comment section, with several commenters with thousands of other comments to their name spreading them.

This probably about the time the rumours picked up steam, but they had originated from months earlier.

That thread remained up on Wednesday, but was soon deleted after Stuff contacted Kiwiblog editor David Farrar for comment.

Farrar told Stuff he deletes defamatory content when it is brought to his attention.

From my own experience he does this promptly and responsibly.

With two million comments and counting on the site it was difficult to keep on top of everything, and he didn’t routinely read the comments on every post.

“When you get that level of comments you can’t go and read them all, you can’t go and read them all it would just take hours every day,” Farrar said.

For a small blog it can be difficult, but for forum the size of Kiwiblog it would be very difficult. Yesterday’s General Debate had 500 comments.

“I tried searching to see if I could proactively find some of it, and actually it’s really hard because people don’t necessarily use the name you would think, they sometimes use nicknames etc. It is really difficult.”

He had suspended several users over comments concerning the Gayford rumours.

To that extent a good response, but the problem persists. Some of those intent on keeping the rumours going have switched tack, to ‘where there’s smoke’ and trying to talk up a Streisand’s effect. As well as trying a conspiracy angle of blaming it all on Labour.

This has turned into a story about the Left slandering National and it’s supporters with false allegations.

The most credible story I have heard is that these rumors came from within Labour and were just gossip about Ardern’s bit of rough. They were not politically motivated or anything new. Now she is promoted beyond her ability its a problem.

“I have heard” is not evidence. It is a common way of trying to spread dirty rumours.

But Farrar has a bigger problem – continuing attempts to hint at what the rumours were about. I have seen two examples already today.

This is a problem Farrar has created for himself to an extent, but having such a hands off approach to monitoring and moderation. But if he doesn’t find a way of dealing with it he could have difficulties.

Another problem for Farrar is his openly disclosed association with National. By allowing Kiwiblog to be used as an attack and rumour mongering forum he is giving opponents of National free shots with claims of ongoing dirty politics.

But changing a culture that has become established virtually unfettered for a decade won’t be easy.

Hooton apologises to Steven Joyce

There were claims that retiring MP Steven Joyce threatened to take Matthew Hooton to court for defamation over Hooton’s final column in NBR in early March. It appears that Joyce may have progressed such a threat after Hooton issued a public apology to Joyce today.

On Facebook:


On 2 March 2018 a column I wrote was published in the print edition of the NBR and on the NBR’s website. It was titled: “Joyce sacking first test of Bridges’ leadership”.

This article could reasonably be understood to suggest that the Hon. Steven Joyce had engaged in unethical, dishonest and/or corrupt behaviour during his tenure as a Minister in the previous National Government.

Nothing in the column was intended to convey such suggestions, which would be untrue. I apologise to Mr Joyce for any harm caused as a consequence.


Also on Kiwiblog “Matthew Hooton has asked Kiwiblog to publish this”: Matthew Hooton apology to Hon Steven Joyce

I don’t know why it was required there, it could have been due to comments at the time, as I don’t recall Farrar posting anything critical of Joyce. He did post Joyce resigns

This is a big blow for National. Steven wasn’t just a top performer in the House, but had been an integral part of National’s strategy and campaign team for well over a decade. They will miss him.

There has been no post about this on Whale Oil yet, but that’s not unusual, it has become common for little reaction for stories of interest emerging during the day until the following morning.

It will be interesting to see whether a couple of posts at Whale Oil stay as they are – Slater may have tidied things up, or he may be a bit edgy about the possibility of more legal challenges.

An interesting reaction:

There has also been quite varied reactions to Scott on Twitter.

NZ views on Trump versus Bannon

David Farrar at Kiwiblog: Trump vs Bannon

So of Trump’s two campaign chairs, one is indicted for money laundering and the other he now labels as mad. What does that say about the judgement of the person who hired them?

David Garrett:

Trump is one seriously unhinged unit…If you allow yourself to think about it, it’s terrifying that this guy’s hand is on the nuclear button at the same time an equally unhinged unit in North Korea has his hand on another nuclear button.

Surely 2018 will be the year the world is closest to a nuclear conflict since the height of the cold war? Doesn’t bear thinking about…

MickySavage at The Standard: Duck and Cover

Makes you wonder if the nuclear button tweet was an attempt at diversion.

And Trump has lost his cool with Bannon.

Whale Oil may have a bit of a dilemma over the Trump-Bannon split. They were still championing Trump yesterday:

Bannon’s Breitbart may now be a front runner. WO have modeled themselves on Bannon/Breitbart,  and I suspect someone may have fancied themselves as a Bannon-like PM maker, but now Trump has dumped on Bannon (not posted about at WO) that may cause some flip flopping between champions, trying to ignore the bust up.